I've spent way too much time on this than I care to admit; I'm new in the Linux world, and I installed Ubuntu 9.04 on a new virtual machine. My problem is getting the screen resolution I would like - 1920x1200. I have tried multiple, multiple different ways of editing the xorg.conf file, and nothing seems to work.

Can anyone provide, or link to, explicit step by step instructions (explanation would be great too). Please do not Google search and provide me with the first link, I've gone through all of these. Other questions: since it is a VM, do I need to worry about any drivers whatsoever? What about having it recognize my video card, etc?

  • Is the problem strictly not being able to configure the resolution you want, or are the problems with the default display? If it's just that you can't get the res. you want that this sounds more like an x.org question that's independent of the VM.
    – Mark Roddy
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 19:01
  • i can't get get the option to set the resolution any higher than 800x600 in the Preferences->Display
    – Nick
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 20:23

5 Answers 5


Microsoft virtual PC only provides a very simple, dumb, and low resolution video device to the client OS. You will not be able to easily change this, and modifying the xorg config in ubuntu won't help. I struggled with this for some time as well, and finally gave up and stuck with the low resolution I was able to use.

Your best bet is to use a virtual machine that has a better video device (VMWare, Virtual Box, etc)


I haven't tried to run Ubuntu in Windows Virtual PC but I have tried in Sun's Virtual Box which is a better tool for VMs than VirtualPC in my opinion. You can run the VM in full screen mode with this tool, although I can't find options for changing the resolution.

  • I second using VirtualBox. I've used VirtualBox for Ubuntu 9.04 with only a few, very fixable problems. The community at forums.virtualbox.org is great.
    – Owen
    Commented Jul 15, 2009 at 14:02

I generally avoid using Virtual PC for Linux. I suggest getting the VMWare Player software and finding an VM Image of Ubuntu online. This will give you a much better experience. The resolutions will automatically resize to whatever your host OS is setup to unless you change the option. Virtual PC is nice for running Windows because it is possible to circumvent the licensing issues if you are running an OEM version of Windows (i.e. Dell) on that manufacturer's hardware. If you start virtualizing Windows you may need to upgrade to VMWare Workstation.

You shouldn't need to install any additional drivers to get VM machines to run, your host OS provides the hardware/drivers to the VM and the VM essentially talks through the host OS to the hardware.

VM Player runs great in XP and Vista, although no matter what you are running it in, if at all possible you should run it off of a different hard drive than your host OS to improve performance.


You need a driver for the vm. E.g. vm-ware provides the VM-Ware tools. If you do not have something like this, I would try the normal Linux/Ubuntu driver for your graphic card.


For those using Virtual Box, you need to install Guest Additions in order to enable higher resolution and mouse integration.

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